about 500 words in length, using full sentences and paragraphs
PRAISE FOR THE PREVIOUS EDITION
“One of our world’s great problems is egocentric, self-serving leadership—leaders
who think people exist for their benefit, instead of vice versa. In stark contrast,
Jesus modeled servant leadership, leading by example. He said, ‘I came to serve,
not to be served.’ Now, two thousand years later, Jesus has over 2.1 billion
followers, which makes Him the undisputed greatest leader of all time. No one else
comes close! This is why you need to know how to lead like Jesus. He is the only
flawless example. That’s why you should read this book!”
—Rick Warren, Author, The Purpose Driven Life Named One of
“America’s Twenty-five Best Leaders” (U.S. News and World Report)
“I had the pleasure of hosting at our church one of Ken Blanchard and Phil
Hodges’s Lead Like Jesus Celebrations. What an impactful day that was for those
who participated. I know they will never think about leadership in the same way
again. Reading Lead Like Jesus will provide you with that kind of experience.
Don’t miss learning from the greatest leadership role model of all time.”
—Bob Russell, Bob Russell Ministries; Retired Pastor, Southeast Christian
“Ever since writing Leadership by the Book with Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges,
I’ve watched them grow in their depth of understanding of what the Bible reveals
about how Jesus would have us lead others. The best thinking the Lord has
revealed to them, to this point, can be found in this book. If you want to be the
servant leader that Jesus mandated His followers to be, then read Lead Like Jesus.
It will change your life and the lives of people you are able to influence.”
—Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church
“You’ll find few men better qualified to address this topic than Ken Blanchard. His
favorite name is Jesus and preferred verb is lead. Let him do for you what he’s
done for me and millions of others—help you lead like Jesus.”
—Max Lucado, Minister of Preaching, Oak Hills Church; Bestselling
“Finally. Finally. Finally. A definitive guide to the connection between our faith
and our work—one that is both theoretically elegant and immensely practical. This
is, without a doubt, the most important management book I have ever
—Patrick Lencioni, Author, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
“Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges continue to lead us deeper into the gold mines of
God’s Word to the treasured truth of life. Lead Like Jesus promises a refurbishing,
applicable perspective from the leader of all time!”
—Dan T. Cathy, President and COO, Chick-fil-A, Inc.
“For those who seek to lead like Jesus, this book is an important reflective tool in
helping to better understand—who we are, where we are going, and why it is
important for people to follow. It is a reminder to all of us that leadership is only a
means. To what end is the ultimate question.”
—C. William Pollard, Chairman, Executive Committee, Billy Graham
Evangelistic Association; Former Chairman, ServiceMaster
“There is no greater leadership model than Jesus, and Blanchard and Hodges have
taken years of experience identifying the leadership characteristics of Jesus that
will affect your life and leadership. They have hit the nail on the head with Lead
—John C. Maxwell, Founder of the John Maxwell Company, the John
Maxwell Team, EQUIP, and the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation
“Millions of people wish everyone could lead like Jesus. Ken Blanchard and Phil
Hodges have dedicated their time and energy, insights and professionalism, to
make it happen. Read this book and ponder the questions raised, the ideas
presented, and ask yourself if you too can take up the challenge in your own life.
It’s not just what would Jesus do, but especially, how would Jesus lead? This book
will help you find the answers.”
—Laurie Beth Jones, Author, Jesus, CEO; The Path; Jesus: Life Coach;
and The Four Elements of Success
“Ken has a divine passion for leaders to let Jesus live out His life through them in
servant leadership. His book, Lead Like Jesus, is an extremely timely book that is
both thorough and God-honoring. I highly recommend it to all who lead others.”
—Henry Blackaby, Author, Experiencing God
“Lead Like Jesus is a gift to the sincere and a beacon of light to the lost. May the
knowledge conveyed in this teaching help spread the message of truth around the
world. It has spoken to my heart as well as my mind.”
—Mary Anne Shula, Shula Enterprises
“Lead Like Jesus transcends all relationships and cuts to the heart of the matter—
leading like Jesus will change you and the lives you touch. Choose this book today
to be challenged and motivated to lead at a higher level everywhere! You’ll never
be or lead the same again!”
—Marjorie Dorr, Independent Director, Pharmerica Corporation; Former
Chief Strategy Officer, WellPoint, Inc.
“In Lead Like Jesus we learn that it is intimacy with Jesus that transforms our lives
and leadership. The difference between this and other leadership books is that the
focus on Jesus encourages the leader to actually learn, grow, and change behavior.
There is no more effective way to becoming a great leader.”
—Vince Siciliano, President and CEO, New Resource Bank
“A path-breaking book in every way. This book shows you how to live your faith
in your world—without ducking, without offending. Follow the path and be
changed in every way.”
—Bob Buford, Author, Halftime and Finishing Well Founder, Leadership
© 2016 Lead Like Jesus
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ISBN 978-0-7180-7725-9 (TP)
ePub Edition April 2016: ISBN 9780718084974
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015917587
16 17 18 19 20 RRD 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
PART I: A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON LEADERSHIP
Chapter 1: Are You a Leader?
Chapter 2: The Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time
Chapter 3: Jesus the Servant
Chapter 4: Is Jesus a Relevant Role Model for Us Today?
Chapter 5: A Transformational Journey That Begins on the Inside
Chapter 6: The Four Domains of Leading Like Jesus
PART II: THE HEART OF A GREAT LEADER
Chapter 7: What Does Leading Like Jesus Look Like?
Chapter 8: I Want to Lead Like Jesus, but My Heart Does Not
Chapter 9: The Results of a Heart Out of Order
Chapter 10: Warning Signs on the Path to Edging God Out
Chapter 11: A Heart Turnaround
PART III: THE BEING HABITS
Chapter 12: The Habit of Accepting and Abiding in God’s Unconditional
Chapter 13: The Habit of Experiencing Solitude
Chapter 14: The Habit of Practicing Prayer
Chapter 15: The Habit of Knowing and Applying Scripture
Chapter 16: The Habit of Maintaining Supportive Relationships
PART IV: THE HEAD OF A GREAT LEADER
Chapter 17: Developing Your Own Compelling Vision
Chapter 18: Jesus’ Compelling Vision
Chapter 19: Creating a Compelling Team/Organizational Vision
Chapter 20: Implementing Your Compelling Vision
PART V: THE HANDS OF A GREAT LEADER
Chapter 21: The Leader as a Performance Coach
Chapter 22: The Work of the Carpenter
Chapter 23: The Way of the Carpenter
Chapter 24: The EGO Factor
PART VI: THE DOING HABITS
Chapter 25: The Habit of Obeying God and Expressing His Unconditional
Chapter 26: The Habit of Grace
Chapter 27: The Habit of Forgiveness
Chapter 28: The Habit of Encouragement
Chapter 29: The Habit of Community
Chapter 30: Leading Like Jesus Begins in You
PART VII: NEXT STEPS TO LEADING LIKE JESUS
Chapter 31: Leading Positive Change
Chapter 32: EGOs Anonymous: Taking the First Step Toward Exalting
Next Steps to Leading Like Jesus: Checklist
Next Steps to Leading Like Jesus: Resource List
About the Authors
In this ebook edition, please use your device’s note-taking function to record your
thoughts wherever you see the bracketed instructions [Your Notes] or [Your
Response]. Use your device’s highlighting function to record your response
whenever you are asked to checkmark, circle, underline, or otherwise indicate your
The world is in desperate need of a different leadership role model. Written a
decade ago, the original Lead Like Jesus book begins with this statement, which
we believe is still true today.
Our experiences and learnings in the last ten years have continued to remind us
that the most important thing in leadership is the leader; the most important part of
the leader is his or her heart; and the most important connection to a leader’s heart
Most leadership resources focus on management techniques, competencies,
strategies, and tactics while ignoring the most important part of leadership—the
leaders themselves. At Lead Like Jesus, we believe that real, lasting change starts
on the inside. When a leader chooses to allow Jesus to transform him or her from
the inside out, that choice will have an effect on everyone and everything that
leader influences. We are clear: you can’t lead like Jesus without Jesus!
A tremendous benefit happens in the lives of people who lead like Jesus:
freedom. Jesus is the only one who offers a model of leadership that’s built on
freedom and complete security in Him and His power at work within us. While the
world continues to throw solutions at us that are built on self-empowerment, self-
reliance, competition, peer pressure, and performance, leading like Jesus frees us to
reach heights of influence we never would be able to reach on our own. When we
are free from pride and fear, free to humbly accept feedback and admit our
mistakes, and strong enough to overlook offenses and forgive the errors of others,
we can lead people and help them reach their full potential.
Still, in the perspective of some leaders, leading like Jesus is “soft” or
impractical; for this reason, many leaders continue to bypass it. The results of this
way of thinking are clear: continued struggles, dissatisfied employees, frustrated
leaders, broken families, split churches, and chaotic, poorly performing teams and
Try to imagine leaders who lead like Jesus. Leaders who love those they
influence so much that they help them get from where they are to where God
would have them go. Leaders who hold people accountable, encourage them daily,
confront challenges, and bring authenticity, character, and integrity to every
interaction. Leaders who want to guide others on the same path. Imagine a world
full of those leaders!
There is no need to search further. We have the perfect leadership role model in
Jesus. We simply need to follow Him and allow Him to work in us and through us.
Even though we have been declaring for many years that Jesus is the greatest
leadership role model of all time, we have not realized the full extent of the
leadership gifts He offers us. Jesus is not only the greatest servant leader but also
the greatest visionary, the greatest team builder, the greatest team motivator, and
the greatest change agent of all time. In fact, we cannot think of any attribute of
leadership that Jesus did not model for everyone as He trained His disciples. Now,
more than two thousand years later, Jesus still has more followers than any leader
the world has ever had.
We have also learned—or relearned—that leading like Jesus is love-based
leadership. In fact, God intends the primary outcome of our leadership and
influence to be showing people Jesus’ love. Leading like Jesus is essentially a
matter of the heart. It is also the highest thought of the head, it is the principal
work of the hands, and it is both expressed through and replenished by the habits.
The formula Everything – Love = Nothing is not of our making. It is the
irrefutable law of the kingdom of God, perfectly fulfilled by Jesus. It is also the
defining characteristic of the leadership model of Jesus: leading like Jesus means
loving like Jesus.
These timeless words of the apostle Paul have much to say to those who are
leaders and teachers, who influence the lives of others:
If we speak with the tongues of men and angels, but do not have love (as our
purpose), we have become noisy gongs or clanging cymbals. If we have the gifts
of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge (about how to lead
people); and if we have all faith (in our leadership), so as to remove mountains,
but do not have love, we are nothing. And if (we engage in selfish acts of self-
promotions and) we give all our possessions to feed the poor and if we surrender
our bodies to be burned, but do not have love, it profits us nothing. (1
Corinthians 13:1–3, paraphrased)
In this book we will dig deeper into what it means to “love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and to “love your
neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39). We will explore how our formal and
informal influence on others can encourage them to develop a closer relationship
with God and help them see the love He has for them—the love so beautifully
demonstrated through His Son, Jesus.
Included are the following new or expanded lessons we’ve learned during the
past ten years:
• If a leader’s heart and motives are not right, all the brightest thinking and
most skilled leadership cannot progress beyond the limits of artful, self-
serving exploitation and manipulation.
• The Being Habits and the Doing Habits of Jesus provide practical ways to put
into action the desire to lead like Jesus.
• Connecting powerful personal testimonies with biblical truths brings added
relevance and authenticity to the Lead Like Jesus message for people of
different generations and cultures.
• Leadership is about change: initiating change, responding to change, guiding
the process of change, reinforcing change, and modeling change for others.
• To lead like Jesus calls for engagement in an interactive personal relationship
with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Ken and Phil are excited that Phyllis Hendry, our dear friend, our sister in
Jesus, and the president/CEO of the Lead Like Jesus ministry, is joining us as a
coauthor. Her passion for the Lead Like Jesus message and her personal experience
of the power of love and leadership greatly enrich this book.
Our prayer is that this book will strengthen your relationship with Jesus and
that you will accept Him not only as your Lord and Savior but also as your
leadership role model. As you are transformed, people around you will be
influenced and drawn to the same model whether they are leading a business, a
nonprofit organization, a community initiative, a church, or a family.
No matter how difficult your leadership role may seem, remember what Jesus
said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”
(Matthew 11:28). Jesus’ invitation is still open. And it is open to you.
We invite you to become part of the movement so that someday everyone,
everywhere, will be impacted by someone who leads like Jesus.
On the journey with you,
A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body
you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell
among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom
through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with
gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do
it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father
People often see leadership based on an “It’s all about me” approach. In all kinds
of organizations and institutions, the rewards of money, recognition, and power
increase as an individual moves up the hierarchy. Self-promotion (pride) and self-
protection (fear) dominate today’s leadership style. Many leaders act as if the
sheep are there only for the benefit of the shepherd. In personal relationships,
leadership based on mutual respect, loving care, self-sacrifice, and openness is
often undermined when pride, fear, and indifference replace intimacy with
isolation. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there is a better way. This alternative approach to
leadership is driven by four basic beliefs that have become central to our ministry:
• Leadership happens anytime we influence the thinking, behavior, or
development of another person.
• Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time.
• Servant leadership is the only approach to leadership that Jesus validates for
• Effective leadership begins on the inside, with our hearts.
As you explore these four beliefs, we hope you will gain an entirely different
perspective on leadership. May you come to see leadership as a journey that begins
with your own transformation and progresses to your leading another person, then
to leading a small number of people, and finally to leading an organization. May
you also see that leadership is the alignment of four essential domains: the heart,
the head, the hands, and the habits.
Let’s get started!
ARE YOU A LEADER?
Jesus called [his disciples] together and said, “You know that those who
are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high
officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever
wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever
wants to be first must be slave of all.”
In our Lead Like Jesus workshops, we often ask, “How many of you think of
yourselves as a leader?” We are amazed that only about 20 to 25 percent of the
people raise their hands, even though our audiences are always predominantly
made up of managers and supervisors at every level of a business, an educational
institution, a government agency, or a faith-based organization. The reason most
people don’t raise their hands is they assume that leadership has to do with a
workplace position or title. Many people feel they are not high up enough on the
organizational chart to say that they are leaders.
We always follow up our first question by asking people to think about the
person who has had the most significant impact on their lives, the person who has
played a major role in who they are today as human beings. Then we ask, “How
many of you named a manager or a supervisor you’ve worked for over the years?”
Hardly a hand goes up. Then we ask, “How many of you identified your father,
your mother, a grandmother or grandfather, aunt, uncle, or friend?” Almost every
hand in the room goes up. Why is that? Because in reality, every human being is a
leader in some part of his or her life—because leadership is an influence process.
We believe that anytime you seek to influence the thinking, behavior, or
development of someone in your personal or professional life, you are taking on
the role of a leader.
As a result, the only way to avoid leadership is to isolate yourself from the
Leadership can be as intimate as speaking words of guidance and
encouragement to a loved one or as formal as passing instructions along extended
lines of communication in an organization. Leadership can be nurturing character
and self-worth in children and promoting greater intimacy and fulfillment in
personal relationships, or it can involve distributing resources in an organization to
reach a specific goal or accomplish a given task.
Thus, there are two types of leadership: life role leadership and organizational
As a spouse, parent, family member, friend, or citizen, you have multiple life
role leadership opportunities every day. What leadership role could be more
important than these? Consider some examples:
• a husband and wife who seek mutual agreement on day-to-day finances
• a mother who teaches her toddler how to eat with a spoon
• a son who provides aging parents with advice and guidance about living
• a person who risks alienation when confronting a friend about a moral failure
• a citizen who helps find housing for the homeless
Different from life role leadership, organizational leadership usually comes
with an official position or title that empowers you to serve the perceived needs of
an organization. Again, examples might help:
• a corporate executive who rejects offers of insider information that would
give his company a competitive edge
• a middle school teacher who excites curiosity in her students
• a rehabilitation nurse who patiently handles a stroke victim’s anger
• a pastor who comforts a grieving member of his church
• a high school football coach who focuses more on molding his players’
character than on winning games
A key difference between life role leadership and organizational leadership
involves the permanence of the relationships involved. Life role leaders function in
enduring relationships as parents, spouses, siblings, friends, and citizens; duty and
obligation cannot be easily relinquished or discarded.
Organizational leaders, on the other hand, operate for a season in an
environment of temporary relationships and fairly constant change. People can
come and go very quickly for all sorts of reasons. This lack of stability in
organizations often breeds a degree of reserve and qualified commitment evident in
competitive office politics.
Most of the significant leadership that shapes our lives does not come from
leaders with titles on an organizational chart; it comes from leaders in life role
relationships. It is instructive to note that in the early church, a candidate’s life role
leadership was a prerequisite for assuming organizational leadership. In 1 Timothy
3:1–7 we read this:
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble
task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate,
self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness,
not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage
his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a
manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own
family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert,
or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He
must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into
disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
One person who exemplified servant leadership in Jesus’ life was His mother,
Mary: “I am the Lord’s servant. . . . May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke
1:38). She passed on to her Son a legacy of obedience, submission, faith, and
service. Mary epitomized the essence of a servant heart. In her life role as a
mother, she was positioned to have strategic influence on the life and spirit of her
Child. The relationship between mother and Son—between a soul already tested
and found willing and a Soul to be nurtured, between a spiritual teacher and a
Student—was part of God’s plan to prepare Jesus for leadership.
PAUSE AND REFLECT
Take a moment to think about the people who have most influenced your
thinking, your behavior, and your life path. As you recall their names and
faces, you will realize that leadership titles and positions of organizational
authority are only part of the leadership landscape—and usually not the
most significant part.
THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP ROLE
MODEL OF ALL TIME
“Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give
his life as a ransom for many.”
The reality is, all of us are leaders. So, as you lead, who is your role model? We
feel the greatest leadership role model of all time is Jesus.
When we tell people this, we get a lot of raised eyebrows. People want to ask
what evidence we have—and we’re glad when they do.
A few years ago at a Lead Like Jesus teleconference broadcast from Atlanta,
Georgia, Ken asked his cohost, the well-known pastor and author John Ortberg,
“Why would you travel all the way across the country from your home church in
Menlo Park, California, to teach people that Jesus is the greatest leadership role
model of all time?”
Ortberg, a gifted storyteller, smiled at the audience and said, “Let’s assume for
a moment that two thousand years ago you were a gambler. I know a number of
you don’t like gambling, but bear with me for a moment. Let me ask you, who
would you have bet your money on to last: the Roman Empire and the Roman
army, or a little Jewish rabbi with twelve inexperienced followers?” Everyone
smiled as John went on to say, “Isn’t it interesting that all these years later we are
still naming kids Matthew, James, Sarah, and Mary, and we call our dogs Nero and
Caesar? I rest my case.”
While John got a big laugh, his point was well taken. Clearly, Jesus’ leadership
was effective: His church exists today; the Roman Empire doesn’t. Put differently,
the important thing about leadership is not what happens when the leader is
present, but what happens when the leader is not there. As a parent, it’s not too
difficult to get your children to do what you want them to do when you’re hovering
over them. But what do they do when you’re not there? A business leader deals
with the same issue. You can’t micromanage your people’s every move, much less
their every thought or idea. So great business leaders today empower their people
to bring their brains to work and make good decisions on their own. When given
this opportunity, those people tend to be fully engaged in their work.
Initial proof that Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time came to
Ken when he was asked to be on Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power after The One
Minute Manager was released in the early 1980s. Ken recalls that when Reverend
Schuller interviewed him, he asked, “Do you know who the greatest One Minute
Manager of all time was?”
Ken gave him a blank stare.
Then Schuller said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
“Really?” said Ken, never having thought of Jesus as a great leadership role
“Absolutely,” said Reverend Schuller. “After all, He was very clear about
goals. Isn’t that your first secret—One Minute Goal Setting?”
“Yes,” Ken responded.
Schuller then smiled and said, “You and Tom Peters didn’t invent management
by wandering around. Jesus did. He wandered from one village to another. If He
caught someone doing something right, He would praise or heal that person. Isn’t
that your second secret—One Minute Praising?”
“Yes,” said Ken.
“Finally,” said Schuller, “if people stepped out of line, Jesus wasn’t afraid to
redirect their efforts. After all, He threw the money lenders out of the temple. Isn’t
that what your One Minute Reprimand is all about?”
Ken laughed, realizing Schuller had a point.
This reality was reinforced when Ken learned that Bill Hybels, founding pastor
of Willow Creek Community Church, was teaching the leaders on his staff
Situational Leadership®,1 a concept Ken had first developed in the late 1960s with
Paul Hersey. When Ken asked Bill why he chose Situational Leadership, Bill was
quick to say that Jesus was the greatest situational leader of all time, using
“different strokes for different folks” depending on the situation. When, for
instance, Jesus first took on His disciples as “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19 ESV)